Why is integration still a sticking point for ERP customers – and what are they doing about it?

Geoff Scott Profile picture for user geoff.scott July 20, 2022 Audio mode
Summary:
Integration continues to be a sticking point for SAP customers. Geoff Scott looks at the complexities faced by customers, and why they are worth overcoming.

Group of people connect single colored cogwheels to make a gear. Teamwork, partnership and integration concept - alphaspirit.it © Shutterstock
(alphaspirit.it © Shutterstock)

As we roll into the second half of 2022 and look back at some of the insights ASUG Research has uncovered, a few things continue to be particularly clear. Organizations:

  1. Work hard to operate at maximum efficiency.
  2. Are making an effort to keep operations free of silos.
  3. Strive for a single source of truth in data.

It is essential to make business decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information. However, the  information that is required for business decisions is often housed in various applications, in differing formats, and is usually accessible by different departments, individuals, or even locations. How do organizations consolidate the data required to be accessible, timely, and efficient? Through integrations.

We recently conducted research in co-operation with SAP integration solutions to better understand integration processes, perceptions, and experiences. In this research, we learned that 78% of organizations place a moderately/extremely high value on integration. Having a single source of truth in the data and processes within an organization benefits the business overall and can be especially important for organizations in making sound, data-based decisions. 

Integration is used for numerous reasons, but the top reasons that organizations place high value on integration is because it:

  1. Offers further support for business goals and growth.
  2. Connects disparate applications and increases flexibility.
  3. Enables better insights and quality through data integrations.

Even for those organizations that don’t prioritize integrations as highly, it’s not because they don’t see the value. Some organizations are simply not ready yet to implement changes needed to integrate systems. This is understandable given the complexities involved in deploying successful integrations. 

Why integration remains a sticking point for SAP customers

First, the integration process isn’t a quick one. In fact, it takes most organizations 3-6 months (48%) or 7-12 months (25%) to get up and running with SAP integration solutions. There are ways to reduce implementation time with SAP integration solutions. The top way is to have more advanced internal knowledge of solutions and capabilities.

As one ASUG member shared, “(to reduce implementation time with SAP integration solutions, it’s important to have…) Understanding all the integration aspects, including security needs and long-term supportability, documentation, upgrades/path forward.”

Another complexity involved in deploying successful integrations is the varied types of applications that organizations are tasked with integrating. Organizations are integrating SAP to non-SAP applications (39%), SAP to SAP applications (37%), and in some cases, non-SAP applications to other non-SAP applications (24%). Also suggested as a top way to help reduce implementation time with SAP integration solutions — offer/provide more standardized or pre-configured solutions and APIs, especially for SAP to non-SAP integrations.

Organizations aren’t alone in integration efforts, and nearly all lean in for some support on integrations. You can learn more about the integration efforts and experiences of other organizations on ASUG.com, but what our research tells us is that most utilize support from the following:

  • in-house resources (before, during and after integrations),
  • SAP (especially before and during integrations), and
  • partners other than SAP (before, during and after integrations).

After in-house resources, partners other than SAP are found to offer the highest value to organizations when supporting integrations.

SAP integration solutions are considered more expensive than others on the market by about half of survey respondents, but the higher cost is thought to be due to superior features and scopes. The majority indicate SAP is best suited for integrating SAP applications as opposed to integrating non-SAP applications. Respondents’ reasoning is that it is more seamless to have a native integration solution, that SAP can provide more expertise for their solutions, and because more standardization can be achieved compared to using non-SAP applications.

Ultimately, the complexity of integration efforts and work involved for successful integrations is worth it for organizations. There are incalculable combinations of potential integrations. For example AdvanSix used integrations to improve visibility and to track customer invoices, ultimately resulting in improved cashflow and working capital.

You can find more integration examples via customer stories on asug.com and at upcoming ASUG events. We have a webcast planned for both ASUG members and non-members on September 27th to walk through how to integrate using SAP Integration Suite with SAP S/4HANA.

Please share with me the challenges that integration efforts have solved, experiences incorporating integrations and/or thoughts on SAP integration solutions in the comments below or via email at [email protected].

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